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Commentary
July 2011

Barbers of Civility

Author Affiliations

Author Affiliations: Department of Surgery, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, Los Angeles, California (Dr Klein); and Department of Romance Languages and Literatures, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland (Dr Forni).

Arch Surg. 2011;146(7):774-777. doi:10.1001/archsurg.2011.150

In 1540, with the support and encouragement of King Henry VIII, the Worshipful Company of Barbers and the Fellowship of Surgeons merged to form the Company of Barber-Surgeons.1 For centuries, relative strangers confronted by serious injuries and ill health have placed their trust in the lineage that arose from these barber-surgeons. In many significant ways, that trust and the responsibility that surgeons assume in accepting that trust have not changed for nearly 500 years. However, what has clearly evolved is the civility quotient applied to surgical practice, the level of courtesy modeled by senior surgeons as reflected in the means by which new surgeons are trained, and an appreciation of the consequences of rude behavior on ourselves, our coworkers, and our patients. Only recently has the qualitative belief that civility can tangibly affect the surgical workplace enjoyed confirmation by quantitative analysis. Consequently, medical organizations have begun to appreciate that disruptive behavior is a problem deserving of serious attention.

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